Seventeen fleets operating more than 62,000 tractors and 217,000 trailers saw a 3% increase in fuel economy in 2015, saving an accumulative $501 million on fuel when compared to the 2015 national average fuel spend of 1.7 million over-the-road Class 8 trucks.

They achieved these gains by purchasing a variety of fuel efficiency technologies, according to the Annual Fleet Fuel Study released by the North American Council for Freight Efficiency.

Fleet-wide mpg increased from 6.87 to 7.06 in 2015, the largest margin of improvement in eight years of consecutive improvements. The trade cycle for these fleets is a little over five years, meaning that the new trucks are about 16% more efficient than the 2010 model year trucks they replaced. 
The adoption rate of new efficiency technologies such as electronically controlled transmissions, low-viscosity engine oil, and tire pressure inflation on trailers continued to increase even though diesel fuel prices averaged $2.71 in 2015.

“Investing in efficiency technologies is the new normal,” said Mike Roeth, operation lead for CWR’s Trucking Efficiency and executive director of NACFE. “And these fleets are continuing to make investments because they do not want to be caught short when fuel prices go up again.”

The primary finding of this report is that the 17 fleets studied are increasing their rate of adoption of these technologies, and that they are enjoying improved fuel economy as a result. The overall adoption rate for the technologies studied in this report has grown from 18% in 2003 to 43% last year.

The average fleet-wide fuel economy of the trucks in this study averaged 7.06 mpg in 2015, a 3% increase over the same fleet in 2014. The fleets in this study on average sell their trucks in 5.25 years. This suggests that the new trucks put into service in 2015 (2016 MY) by these fleets were about 16% better than the ones removed — the ones which had been put into service in 2009 (2010 MY). This is a significant improvement in fuel efficiency, and the report concludes there were three basic elements: movement to EPA 2010 systems using diesel exhaust fluid, the 2014 GHG phase 1 products, and the year-over-year increase in adoption of the technologies included in this study.

The fuel savings in 2016 between the “business-as-usual” 6.30 mpg and the NACFE fleets average of 7.06 mpg amounts to $4,653 per year per truck, at the $2.71 per gallon fuel cost over the average tractor mileage of 99,958. The fleets are saving $8,075 over the national average of 5.83 mpg. If fuel costs had been at the four-year average of $3.89 per gallon, the savings would have been $6,679 and $11,591, respectively.

And finally, for these 17 fleets operating 62,123 trucks, in 2015 combined they saved $500.6 million compared to the average trucks on the road.

The 17 fleets varied in the choices they make in fuel efficiency solutions. For instance, in their adoption of idle reduction solutions, some fleets are using diesel auxiliary power units, others electric HVAC systems, others automatic start/stop, while some are managing idle with engine parameter settings, diesel-fired heaters and driver training and incentives.

Participating fleets are Bison Transport, CR England, Cardinal Logistics, Challenger Motor Freight, Con-way Truckload (now part of XPO Logistics), Crete Carriers, Frito Lay, Maverick, NFI Industries, Nussbaum, Paper Transport, Prime, Ryder, Schneider, and United Parcel Service.

A new section of the study this year combines the fleet data with the just released final EPA and NHTSA Greenhouse Gas and Fuel Efficiency Phase 2 Regulations.  A set of charts has been released to show where the studied fleets are in adoption of several of the regulated areas and how the trend lines from these adoption rates project into the required levels years into the future phases of the implementation.

A benchmarking tool was also released with this study, a spreadsheet that can be used by any dealership or fleet owner to compare their own technology adoption to these NACFE studied fleets.

Technologies most commonly adopted by the 17 fleets were:

  • Anti-idle electronic engine controls
  • Aero hoods and fenders
  • Aerodynamic bumpers
  • Aerodynamic mirrors
  • Engine parameters set for fuel economy
  • Synthetic axle lube
  • Full-height roof air fairing
  • Driver training for fuel economy
  • Synthetic transmission oil
  • Limit speed to less than 65 mph

To download the report, click here.